Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the Hagia Sophia does not actually have an “origin as a mosque.” Hagia Sophia of course originated as a church. It was built in the sixth century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was for nearly a thousand years the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the center of the Orthodox Faith, and the world’s most magnificent cathedral. See this important article for more background. Converting the Hagia Sophia to a mosque once again would further undermine the position of the Christians of Turkey, making their situation all the more precarious.

We join the U.S. State Department in asking yet again that this virtually predetermined decision be reversed, and that the government of Turkey affirm its commitment to religious freedom by discarding all plans to change the status of the Hagia Sophia. And once again we urgently request that the United Nations and the U.S. State Department and Commission on Religious Freedom act to prevent this, given the Hagia Sophia’s importance for Christians and the deleterious effect this change would have upon Turkey’s embattled Christian minority.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“Turkey’s Justice Minister says Hagia Sophia will return to its ‘origin as a mosque,'” by Paul Antonopoulos, Greek City Times, June 17, 2020:

Speaking on Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s Justice Minister made bizarre claims that Hagia Sophia’s origins are as a mosque.

“This [Hagia Sophia] is a matter of sovereignty for Turkey. Of course, it is a common wish for all of us to see that its [Hagia Sophia’s] chains broken and opened for a [Muslim] prayer,” said Abdulhamit Gül, adding “I think we are on the eve of a legal and administrative process that excites all of us.”

He then highlighted how the Hagia Sophia, built as a Christian Cathedral, had served as a mosque for 500 years.

“So, this will genuinely contribute to its real value once it was restored to its origin,” said Gül.

The Justice Minister then explained that in the first week of July, a court hearing will be heard on whether the Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, should be converted into a mosque.

He revealed that the courts decision will be rendered within 15 days, suggesting that it is virtually predetermined that the court will rule that Hagia Sophia should be converted into a mosque.

“Naturally, [converting] Hagia Sophia [into a mosque] has been a dream for all of us,” Gül said. “To be able to experience this excites us greatly. God willing, we will see the return of Hagia Sophia to its origin.”…